Humans and gods have quite a romantic (and sexual) history together. Since there’s no one quite as seductive as a god, humans have never been able to resist them. These relationships brought about demigods.
How Demigods Came About
There are a lot of things you can learn from Greek mythology. There’s love, life, friendship, and almost anything we encounter daily that hasn’t changed in centuries. The ancient Greeks covered all the universals through an almost endless universe of myths.
However, there’s a catch. When things in the narrative got too complicated, and there was nothing other characters could do, the old Greeks introduced gods into the story, thus getting endless opportunities for story development. The gods of Olympus were there to give powers, solve problems, and sometimes cause them themselves.
They were also there to seduce humans. That is how demigods came to be. They were the children of gods and humans. They had superhuman powers but were mortal. Demigods were also stars of every Greek myth story there is. Some of the most famous stories about demigods were documented in the Iliad and the Odyssey by the Greek author Homer.
There are around twenty demigods in Greek mythology. They look more or less the same as humans. Some of the popular ones are Hercules, Achilles, Odysseus, Perseus, Atlanta, and Theseus.
Achilles was the son of Thetis, a minor sea-goddess, and Peleus, the king of Myrmidons. He was the strongest and bravest man in all of Greece. When he was born, his mother wanted him to be immortal, so she placed his body in the river Stix. She was holding him by the heel while she was submerging him, and that remained the only place anyone could injure or kill him by. In order to kill him, King Paris had to ask Apollo to guide the arrow straight into Achilles’ heel.
Perseus was a son of Zeus and Danae, and his adventures are portrayed in many myths. He was sent on an impossible quest by King Polydectes — to fetch the head of the Gorgon Medusa. That unfair offer was a call for other gods to intervene. They gave him a curved sword and winged sandals, a mirror-like shield, and a helmet that made him invisible. With all that help, Perseus managed to slay Medusa and rescue Andromeda, whom he later married, from a sea monster.
Another male demigod often portrayed in Greek mythology was Theseus. Theseus was a son of Poseidon and Aethra. His greatest achievement was killing the Minotaur.
Aside from male ones, there are also some female demigods. The most popular among them is, of course, the beautiful Helen of Troy. Her beauty was the cause of the Trojan war. Prince Paris of Troy (the same one who killed Achilles) abducted Helen and took her to Troy, which started a nine-year war.
Clymene and Harmonia were another two female demigods. Clyemene was the daughter of the Titan gods Oceanus and Tethys and the mother of Atlas and Prometheus. Harmonia was the daughter of Zeus and Electra and the wife of Cadmus. Eventually, the gods turned Harmonia into a serpent.
The Effects of Demigods on Humans
By creating demigods in their stories, ancient Greeks did two things. First, they admitted that the Gods were faulty and sometimes, quite similar to humans, and thus, they made them easier to sympathize with. Secondly, demigods represented some kind of idealistic characters who you, as a reader, could look up to.
The biggest mistake of the Gods of Olympus was the creation of demigods. This is one of the most philosophical places in Greek mythology. Even though gods were immortal, omnipotent, and could do anything they wanted, they were still jealous of humans because living a high-end life in the mountains was just too boring. They needed something to bitch about and struggle with. Demigods were the result of their affairs with humans, which they had in order to experience some of the thrill of human existence. The ancient Greeks used them to play with fate in their myths, sometimes to help humans, and sometimes to hurt them. They all had tragic lives and deaths, and all were eventually punished by Gods.
We could definitely say that demigods were the first superheroes. They have been portrayed in arts and literature ever since the ancient times when they were conceived in the collective imagination. On the other side, some characters from popular culture, such as Superman and Spiderman, would not have existed if it hadn’t been for demigods to serve as examples. Their superpowers and heroism are modern versions of demigods from ancient myths.
Is This Possible, and Why Was There Such a Belief in the Old Times?
To understand the origin of the idea of demigods, we must first understand that Greek mythology had a slightly different view of gods than we do. Every god had one superpower and commanded one force of nature (water, fire, wind, etc.). On the other hand, gods in Greek mythology had human-like traits as well as human flaws, such as jealousy, anger, or envy. So they were omnipotent but limited by their human-like personalities.
Demigods were more like humans, but had extra abilities or were examples of physical perfection. They were larger than other humans or more muscular and almost always, very beautiful. They were portrayed as nearly perfect human beings. Basically, a demigod is an example of the maximum human potential, and that is the main reason for their existence. The creators of ancient Greek mythology made beings that showcased that even gods can make mistakes and suffer their consequences. As for humans, they gave the prototype for the ideal person every human should strive to become.
So, in a way, demigods were then what celebrities and Instagram stars are today — someone we all want to be.